The kids and I went apple picking last weekend in upstate New York. We stayed in the summer home of a friend of mine (and fellow dessert lover), in the heart of miles of apple orchard country. I had to pick up a few of Jessica’s(daughter) friends at colleges along the way from my start point in PA where Jessie attends college, so I needed orchards closer than our usual jaunt to Hicks, way way upstate. So we went picking in the Catskills instead of the much further north Adirondack/Green mountain border. My friend’s home sits literally in an orchard, soooo beautiful during the day and Icabod Crane creepy at night. I packed up and brought along breakfast (Sat & Sun), lunch, and dinner so once I finally got out of the car I could stay put, relax and enjoy Saturday before Sunday’s reverse commute, not to mention the nearest grocery store was an easy 20-25 minute ride. I also brought along the fixins’ to make candy apples. Well, after a nice big breakfast, we went out into the orchards to see who was ready to be picked, we filled bags with early macs, honeycrisp, cortland, gala, and granny smith-the red and golden delicious were not ready to pick. After a break for lunch, at which time I made candy apples(for later I thought), we went to a homemade cider and donuts barn about a mile up the road where we hit the jackpot-they were also making homemade fudge that day, YEA!!!
At about 4pm we packed it in for the day, headed back to the house, everyone wanted a shower and to throw on their jammies and settle in for dinner, dessert, and movies. Then my daughter asked, oh yeah mom, what’s for dessert? I was going to answer candy apples, fudge, and donuts of course, but while I wasn’t looking, the girls had eaten everything between lunch and afternoon snack. Now I’m too far from a grocery store, too tired to start pies or strudels, so after thinking for a minute I realized I could just bake off some of the great apples we just spent the day picking (I said I was tired), so I went rummaging through my friend’s kitchen for odds and ends to stuff into a bunch of apples, making them really tasty when baked. Here’s what I found: flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, a handful of walnut halves, half a handful of raisins and in the freezer a few boxes of mini filo pastry shells (12 Shells in each box), and here’s what I did:
Maria’s Tiny Apple Tarts
- 1 box mini filo pastry shells (12)
- 5 large apples (I used macs)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour, all purpose
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/3 cup apple cider
In a sauce pot on top of the stove over medium-low heat, cook covered for 10-15 min, cinnamon, butter, sugar, flour, cider, and 2 of the five apples (cored, peeled and diced small)-this will turn into chunky applesauce.
While this is cooking, heat oven to 350 degrees F, and core, peel and dice the remaining 3 apples (if apples are not big, use 6 or 7 smaller). This time make slightly larger chunks when dicing apples. Just before the chunky applesauce stage in the pot on the stove, add the remaining 3 diced apples, cover for 3-4 minutes then uncover pot, continue cooking on low heat until larger apple chunks are just beginning to get soft but still have some resistance- just not crispy crunchy-you want something like strudel apple pieces in chunky applesauce. This whole process takes 15-20 minutes tops, depending on personal taste for apple crunchiness.
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While apples cook , when oven beeps that it’s fully preheated to 350 degrees, place filo shells on an ungreased baking sheet. The directions will tell you to bake 3-5 minutes, but I strongly recommend baking for 8-10 minutes-this makes the shells really really crispy (don’t forget we’re putting a really wet filling into shells).
When shells are ready, fill each shell heaping full with apple mixture. This was fast, easy, yummy, and if I had found heavy cream in that house you know each shell would have been topped with a dollop of whipped cream. I ended up making 4 boxes of shells and filling, and to one of the batches I added a sprinkle of toasted walnuts and raisins. Here’s how I made the topping:
I didn’t have good quantities of the raisins and walnuts, but with what I had, I minced finely both the walnuts and raisins, tossed them with a tablespoon of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and spread them on a baking sheet and toasted for 10 minutes in an oven at 350 degrees F. I then sprinkled this mixture on the tarts.
We had a great time and I loved the little filo shells. I’m going to keep in my fridge from now on. You can put fresh fruit and whipped cream in them, a little melon ball size scoop of vanilla ice cream with a little drizzle of honey and sprinkles of minced, salted peanuts and more. Now that I’m back home I’m going to try even more recipes with these cups, miniature lemon meringue pies, etc.
I’ll let you know what happens.